Mark Vincenti: Alum, assistant soccer coach, and now campus pastor. 

By Abby Rusie, Contributor

[Music enters at full volume: “Sequential Elements” by The Galaxy News for 2-3 seconds]

RYAN WALKER: HU has a new campus pastor: Mark Vincenti. While he is no stranger to many HU students, some are still wondering: Who is this guy? Why did Huntington choose to hire him? Abby Rusie has the answers.

NEW BEGINNINGS: Mark Vincenti stands in front of a wall covered with the word “peace” in many languages. This is one fruit of the spirit Vincenti works hard to embody. (Provided by University Relations)

MARK VINCENTI: I first got involved as a student in 1995. 

ABBY RUSIE: That’s Mark Vincenti. 

VINCENTI: I came as a freshman to play soccer. I was a music major, and the Lord changed my career path while I was here into ministry. Then just last year, I was invited to be the assistant coach for the women’s soccer team, so I’ve taken a couple years off with the men’s team, and so I’ve been working with the women’s soccer team for the last two years, which I love. 

RUSIE: Vincenti has been a member of Huntington’s community since 1995. HU’s Vice President of Spiritual Formation and Cultural Enrichment Arthur Wilson echoes how Vincenti has always had a heart for service and discipling young people, even prior to beginning this new position. 

VP STAMP OF APPROVAL: Vice President for Spiritual Formation and Cultural Enrichment, Arthur Wilson, always joked that Mark Vincenti would replace him as campus pastor. 
(Photo provided by University Relations)

ARTHUR WILSON: If a person does not find Mark to be compelling, friendly, warm, and inviting, that person needs to get evaluated because it’s very difficult to see Mark as someone who doesn’t care and shows empathy, sympathy, and compassion to people. Mark is committed to being faithful to God. 

RUSIE: Two Huntington students describe how Vincenti began investing in their lives even before he was a staff member. 

BREANNA BILDNER: Mark’s mentorship to me has been greatly appreciated.

RUSIE: That was Breanna Bildner, junior marketing and management student. 

BILDNER: We did a small group Bible study with him, and I’ve learned more during that time from his insights and his knowledge of the Bible than I have from any other teacher. 

RIPPLE EFFECTS: Junior marketing and management major Breanna Bildner reads her Bible outside the spiritual formation office and reflects on notes she took from her small group with Vincenti. (Photo by Abby Rusie)

JUSTIN POOLE: I would say for me personally, Mark’s mentorship has been a big part of my spiritual growth. 

RUSIE: And that was Justin Poole, sophomore worship ministry major and Joyful Noise leader. 

POOLE: When COVID hit and everything was shut down, Mark came alongside myself and a group of friends and offered to do a small group with us over Zoom, and so for a couple months we just had a good time and fellowship. We really just learned a lot from Mark and he helped us grow spiritually.

RUSIE: Given Mark’s already deep relationship with many students, it was a no brainer in the minds of the staff that he should be the one to take on this role. 

WILSON: There was no doubt in my mind that Mark Vincenti was the perfect fit.

RUSIE: Vincenti lists his top spiritual gifts as encouragement, teaching, prayer, and leadership. This makes him an even more perfect fit for the campus pastor position, according to students. 

JUSTIN & JNOISE: Sophomore worship ministry major Justin Poole (far left) leads students in worship along with the rest of Joyful Noise. (Photo provided by Joyful Noise)

POOLE: Qualities for a campus pastor: They need to be open and honest with their students, and they need to be able to be approached. 

BILDNER: A campus pastor should be someone you feel comfortable walking up to for any situation, whether it be spiritual growth or even just anyone in general. I really think that Mark does a great job of this, he’s so approachable. I feel like I could talk to him about anything in my life. If you walk into the DC, you just see him sitting with groups of students all the time, even before he was campus pastor. So I think that just really shows the character that he has and the love that he has for the students here. 

RUSIE: While working toward his Master’s in biblical studies at Lancaster Bible College, Vincenti left a lasting impression. John Soden, his former Hebrew professor, remembers Vincenti as, quote, “a relational and engaged student, connecting well with other students.” 

VINCENTI: I would love for this campus to be a place that has such spiritual vibrance that people who come here would get to know Jesus on a whole different level. And not just get to know him personally, but also be equipped to know how to go out and help others get to know Jesus. 

RUSIE: Though Vincenti says the adjustment has not been perfect. 

VINCENTI: The hardest part, honestly, of transitioning to Huntington is probably trying to learn everyone’s name. I think we’re at about a thousand, something like that. There are so many wonderful people here that I’m enjoying meeting, but I’m terrible with names. So, I just keep working on it and everyone has been so cool about it. 

PRAY, PRAY, PRAY: Vincenti leads students in prayer during chapel on September 14, one of the foundational aspects of spiritual formation he wants to emphasize. (Photo by Abby Rusie)

RUSIE: Vincenti’s full-time presence on campus is drastically needed in our current climate. According to “A New Survey Reveals How the Pandemic Impacted Christian College Students,” by Relevant, “After making it through a difficult pandemic while balancing school, work, relationships and their faith, Christian college students have a strong desire for their faith to grow. They want to gain knowledge and wisdom, but they need people who are willing to walk alongside them as they become leaders in the Church.” Not only will Vincenti’s addition to HU’s staff aid in this effort, but it will also free up Arthur Wilson’s schedule to help grow Huntington’s spiritual formation plans at our other locations in Fort Wayne and at HU Arizona. 

PASTOR’S GOT PROSE:The cover of Vincenti’s 2018 book on spiritual polarization in our current world. (Photo taken by Abby Rusie)

WILSON: Having Mark on staff in the center for spiritual formation allows us the opportunity to not only continue the great work of engaging and serving our traditional undergraduate student body here at the main campus, but having him focus on the chapels, the small groups, and the main campus stuff allows me and frees me up to look at the other components or locations of our University that we have not had the time to really invest in developing the spiritual formation plan for Peoria, for Fort Wayne OTD, for our professional program students and our graduate students. As stewards of the mission of HU, we owe it to them that faith is being integrated in their learning and that they feel supported spiritually during their time as a student, regardless of if it’s online, as a commuter, or so on so forth. 

RUSIE: Vincenti remembers a specific event during his time as an HU student that still sticks out to him as one of his favorite memories. 

VINCENTI: I was really never a part of any super crazy shenanigans during my time on campus here. However, I was the drummer in a pretty popular band on campus called Lucid. We played concerts in the HUB, the recital hall, we played concerts on the quad, and in Zurcher Auditorium when we opened for Sixpence None the Richer, which was a very popular band at the time, so it was a super big thing. Our first concert we ever played was in the HUB, and the place was totally packed, standing room only. The atmosphere was electric, and the people were really into the music. It continues to be one of my all-time favorite memories from my time as a student. 

RUSIE: Vincenti released a book in 2018 entitled Pursuing the Third Option: Following Jesus In A Polarized World in which he challenges readers to put aside their polarized thinking patterns and explore a third route for being a follower of Jesus in our post-Christian society. Despite his wealth of knowledge, care for students, and desire to impact others, Mark points back to God alone as being the only One who can truly bring revival. 

VINCENTI: There’s nothing that we can do without God’s power, and so there’s nothing that I can bring that will really do any good other than just depending on God. I want to depend on Him , I want to pray, I want to watch Him do the things that only He can do because no human being can create a spiritually vibrant campus, no human being can change hearts, and no human being can create revival, right? So I know what I long for, I long for spiritual vibrance, I long for people to just fall in love with Jesus and be equipped to follow Him with their whole lives, and to go out and make disciples wherever they go, no matter their profession. I know that’s what I want to see happen. But, the only thing I can bring is just humble dependence on God, on Christ.